Company Spotlight: Mother Earth Brew Co.

“Living the dream” has become a go-to conversational response for adults across the nation, but how many can say they’re actually doing so? For Dan Love, owner of Mother Earth Brew Co. in Nampa, Idaho, the answer is a little complicated.

“I can’t say I’m living my dream because I never dreamed I would do this,” said Dan. “But what I can say is that when people ask me what my dream would be, I tell them that I wake up every morning and go to my dream job.”

Since 2010, Dan has led the charge in growing Mother Earth from a home brew store, brewery and tasting room packed into 2,000 square feet, to two large breweries in two states.

“We distribute in 17 states and six countries: Japan, Korea, England, Norway, Holland and Finland,” said Dan. “Boo Koo was even the number one IPA in Korea in 2016.”

With thousands of beers to choose from on a global scale, Dan emphasizes that Mother Earth continues to grow because it’s just plain better beer.

“I don’t say that to show off,” said Dan. “But we have a process that a lot of breweries don’t have. My head brewer is a Master Chemist and a Master of Brewing Science. We have a laboratory and we make sure the beer never tastes different than the last batch that went out.”

Dan picked the perfect location to create batches of brew; no Idaho fridge is complete without a good craft beer. According the Brewer’s Association, Idaho has more than 4.5 breweries per capita* and produces over 90,000 barrels of craft beer each year.

Not only is Idaho working its way up the ranks in beer consumption, but Dan said Idaho’s workforce is the cream of the crop.

“Idaho’s children are raised differently,” said Dan. “You can tell because people here in Idaho don’t get in trouble. They just expect to work hard and be paid fairly. It’s very refreshing.”

Dan’s beer is as refreshing as his employees. So much so that Treefort Music Fest tapped into Mother Earth to create their 2019 official beer: a pale ale called Timber Giant. A local music festival deserves an attention-grabbing local bear.

But is Mother Earth local?

“People confuse local with native,” said Dan. “Mother Earth Brew Co. is never going to be a native Idahoan company, but we’re definitely local. We’ve invested $4 million into our brewery floor in Nampa to create jobs. We have a 30 year lease. We’re here for good.”

Visit local craft beer company, Mother Earth Brew Co., in their brewery and tasting room at 1428 Madison Avenue, Nampa, Idaho 83687 and at www.motherearthbrewco.com.

*per 100,000 adults over age 21

Post Categories:

Company Spotlight: House of Design

House of Design based in Nampa, Idaho, isn’t what you think. Sure, their office space is on trend with exposed cement details, dry erase walls, bright white interiors and bold accessories, but their accessories aren’t trinkets for a coffee table; they’re robots.

“We are a robotics systems integrator,” said Shane Dittrich, principal and CEO of House of Design. “The easiest way to understand that is to think of an automotive plant with robots on the line building cars. We are the ones who take the robots and implement them into manufacturing processes.”

House of Design Corporate Officers Monica and Ryan Okelberry and Shane and April Dittrich

Since its inception in 2012, House of Design has focused on the use of industrial ABB robots as a commodity to improve manufacturing processes.

“We develop the process, we do all of the mechanical engineering, all of the electrical engineering, all the programming, all the assembly, all the tests in our facility and then we package it up and ship it to our customer,” said Shane. “But we don’t build robots from scratch.”

The robotic systems developed at House of Design range from small robots moving cameras, to robots lacing shoes, to complete systems enabled to construct building materials.

“This business is very risky because we automate, design and build things that have never been done before, and every single time it’s different,” said Shane. “But that’s what our engineers love. They work on something different every day.”

Maintaining a progressive, forward-thinking mindset is what drives success at House of Design. That mentality led the company to be awarded an Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant of $162,000 for their partnership with Idaho State University and Ph.D. student Omid Heidari.

According to IGEM Program Manager Carmen Achabal, the program benefits Idaho industries by solving business challenges and acting as a catalyst for new, viable technologies that give businesses an edge in their respective industries.

“House of Design has an exceptional reputation of innovation in solving customer problems,” said Carmen. “This project’s success will result in expanded product offerings and a cutting-edge learning experience for staff and students.”

Shane explains that with the help of the IGEM grant, House of Design and Omid are developing augmented reality that allows customers to walk up to their robotics system and identify different issues and overall equipment effectiveness through augmented reality glasses or the use of a HoloLens.

“Once we develop a simple system, it’s deployed into our customer’s environment and because we’re remote, troubleshooting and maintenance can get complicated,” explained Shane. “This is a new way for us to help our customers manage that process.”

It’s important to note that no matter how sophisticated the product offering from House of Design becomes, robots aren’t taking over the world or workforce.

“When an automated system gets deployed, people are afraid it’s taking jobs,” said Shane. “But if you look, it creates more technical maintenance jobs, it creates more technical operators, it creates the ability for that company to grow in other areas like sales and marketing. Even if robots build other robots, humans still have to show them how to build robots.”

After creating nearly 50 jobs in the valley with more to come, Shane emphasizes it will always be all about the people.

Visit House of Design at 16141 N 20th Street, Nampa, Idaho 83687 or at https://thehouseofdesign.com.

Company Spotlight: Askalokal

How many times have the words “You definitely should try…” come out of your mouth? Whether it’s to a cousin in town for the weekend, a couple on the street wandering aimlessly in search of a new lunch spot, or to a friend planning the details of a first date, as humans, we are naturally inclined to make recommendations to those around us. But what do we get in return?

For Mike Gibson, founder of the Idaho-based mobile app, Aska, this was a problem that desperately needed solving.

“I want to incentivize, recognize and reward people for referring their favorite local businesses,” said Mike. “Through the app, there is an incentive to give referrals and an incentive for those who take someone up on their recommendation.”

Insert the frantic applause of realtors, hotel front desk workers and bartenders here.

Here’s how it works: The Aska app, available for Apple and Android, is full of local restaurants, bars, salons and more. When referring someone to a favorite local business, the person making the referral selects the business in the app, enters the recipient’s phone number and hits send. The person on the receiving end then gets a text message with the business information and a first-time visitor’s deal ranging from discounts to buy-one-get-one offers, to introductory products. Once the deal is redeemed, the person making the recommendation benefits as well because Aska keeps track of the referrals and, much like a punch card, provides a kickback over time.

Chain restaurants are nowhere to be found in the app, and that’s by design. Aska is hyper-focused on keeping things local or, as Mike calls it, being the anti-Yelp. Using what he learned from a TED Talk by Kimber Lanning, founder of the Local First Arizona Foundation, Mike explains that if only 10% of spending was shifted from national to local companies, the economic impact throughout the United States would be massive.

“Take Slow by Slow here in Boise, for example,” said Mike. “Your money goes to Slow by Slow for a cup of coffee, and their money goes back into other local businesses like paying a graphic designer or accountant, and that in turn goes back into the local economy when that person shops locally.”

This is an example that’s repeated all throughout Idaho communities.

“The friendliness and kindness of Idaho makes this the perfect place for Aska,” said Mike. “The people are willing to engage, they believe in community and the importance of local. It’s extraordinary.”

So, friendly Idahoans, who will you refer next?

Follow Aska on Instagram @askalokal and download the Aska app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Company Spotlight: Cascade Rescue

On the morning of March 22, 2014, a small neighborhood near Oso, Washington, woke to tragedy as a mudslide engulfed nearly 50 homes and structures, leaving more than 40 residents dead and numerous others displaced. Over 600 personnel, including first responders and volunteers, worked on the landslide recovery operations around the clock, burning through equipment and resources in an effort to rescue people from the mud and debris.

“Every time I think about that about that, I’m reminded why our work is important,” said Dana Jordan, president of Cascade Rescue Company in Sandpoint, Idaho. “We don’t directly save people’s lives, but I can give you hundreds of instances where people are still walking around because of what we make.”

Cascade Rescue Company manufactures toboggans, high-incline litters and other rescue equipment for fire departments, ski patrol, emergency medical support teams, Sheriff’s offices, search and rescue units, helicopter operations, the military, and more. Their lineup includes over 150 products that are vital to providing assistance to people in extreme environments.

“In the case of a ski patroller, our equipment can help them get someone off a mountain who’s had a heart attack,” said Dana. “In the case of a helicopter rescue, we make a product that allows the helicopter to lower a rescuer down into the woods, package the patient up, and hoist them back into the helicopter.”

The diverse line of equipment at Cascade Rescue, now shipped to over 25 countries, originated from a single product developed in 1962 at Steven’s Pass in Washington.

“In 1962, if you got hurt on a ski hill, chances are pretty high you’d get dragged to the bottom of the mountain on a tarp,” said Dana. “After doing that a dozen times a day, our founder, Victor Bradley, said he could do something better, so he came out with the first ski patroller’s toboggan.”

Since then, quality has continued to separate Cascade Rescue from its competitors.

“Everything is made by hand in Sandpoint, Idaho,” said Dana. “We don’t source things from China or Canada. We’re all made right here.”

For the nearly one dozen employees at the 9,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Sandpoint, Cascade Rescue has provided transferable skills and high-paying jobs. These benefits are important. Without the dedication and loyalty of their employees, Cascade Rescue would fall flat.

“It’s all about the people,” said Dana. “If we didn’t have the kind of people we do, the kind of people that care about their customers and care about doing things right and care about the quality, we wouldn’t be in business.”

Visit Cascade Rescue at 1808 Industrial Drive, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864, or their home on the web at www.cascade-rescue.com.

Post Categories:

Company Spotlight: New West KnifeWorks

What is the most important human invention? Is it the wheel, revolutionizing transportation and migration? Is it the radio, carrying messages across countries and continents to families and fighter pilots?

Arguably, it’s the knife.

Ambroise Muller of The Knife Hub points out, “One main fact that most individuals fail to observe was that the invention of tools such as knives not only made life easier for our ancestors, but gave them more spare time, during which they could socialize or develop new skills.”

Corey Milligan, founder of the award-winning company New West KnifeWorks, is taking this historical game changer to a new level.

“My goal is to make the finest performing knives, but also to bring in a design that’s appealing,” said Corey.

If the list of New West KnifeWorks endorsements is any indication – including rave reviews from The New York Times, Forbes, Bon Appetit Magazine and Bloomberg – Corey is exceeding that goal.

Just as a master chef hand-selects their recipe ingredients, Corey focuses on the use of top-quality materials when manufacturing his knives. Steel for the blades is curated from U.S. company Crucible Industries, a world leader in steel development, and New West’s knife handles are works of art, yet virtually indestructible.

“Our customers refer to our kitchen knives as ‘kitchen jewelry,’” said Corey. “Sometimes it’s hard to convince customers that our knives are so badass because they’re so beautiful and nice to look at.”

Kitchen knives are the bread and butter of New West KnifeWorks and their sights are set on becoming the best kitchen knife in the world.

“Most people don’t know that we’re the only manufacturer in the United States of high-end kitchen knives,” said Corey. “No one else does it.”

Although New West KnifeWorks has been in business for over 20 years, Corey says they’re just scratching the surface. Their latest venture includes a new factory in Victor, Idaho.

“It’s really becoming an incubator for creatives,” said Corey. “And the labor is awesome in Victor. There are highly-skilled, highly-educated people from all walks of life.”

With companies like Mondo Fly Fishing, Sego Ski Co. and Grand Teton Brewing based in Victor, New West KnifeWorks will be in good company.

“The more we grow, the more opportunities we have to make cool stuff,” said Corey. “This is just the beginning.”

Visit New West KnifeWorks at their store fronts in Jackson Hole, Napa Valley or Park City, or at http://www.newwestknifeworks.com/.

Post Categories:

Company Spotlight: Nightforce

Nestled on a hill above Orofino, Idaho, overlooking the Clearwater River, is a modest campus that’s home to a state-of-the-art machine shop and an optics lab filled with engineers. The optical components used at this shop aren’t meant to be snapped into eyeglass frames, however. They’re a powerful and vital component of Nightforce rifle scopes.

“We’ve been around for almost 27 years,” said Operations Manager Jesse Daniels. “The product was originally designed for hunting, but our owner has a passion for the military, and we started selling to tier one military groups in the 1990’s.”

The Nightforce dedication to the military has not only made their product popular among an intelligence alliance comprised of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, but they also recently landed a prestigious military contract in which one of their scopes will be integrated as the squad variable power scope (SVPS) component of weapons deployed by the U.S. Special Operations Command.

“SVPS is definitely a milestone,” said Jesse. “When you land these big military contracts, you have a lot of people looking up to you because they look up to the military as well. A big win like this is great for our military business and it’s also a great influence for the commercial market.”

For a company based in a town like Orofino, calling this contract a big win is an understatement.

“It means a lot to us because our culture here revolves around our products. There is a lot of pride in what we do,” said Klaus Johnson, head of engineering at Nightforce.

Jesse and Klaus agree that the Nightforce staff is particularly adept at crafting rifle scopes because most are shooters.

“We’re building these scopes for military and long-range shooters, but we’re also building them for ourselves,” said Jesse. “We get to go out our backdoor in Idaho and test them ourselves.”

Although their scopes are used to win competitions for precision shooting and help defend freedom around the globe, Nightforce’s biggest asset is the passion their people have.

“Klaus and I have worked at other companies and you get a different feel here,” Jesse said. “Our top dealers visit, and they’re blown away by our story and the level of expertise in every area of our business. Our quality and our passion got Nightforce to where it is and will get us to our goals in the future.”

Visit Nightforce at http://nightforceoptics.com/

Post Categories:

Company Spotlight: Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine

There are 162 people in Idaho quietly making history. Their story began in September of 2018 when they walked through the sparkling glass doors of a building whose design rivals an art gallery or museum. They are the inaugural class of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine.

“We are the first and only medical school in the State of Idaho,” said Stephanie Dillon, director of communications and marketing at ICOM.

ICOM was founded by healthcare visionary, Dan Burrell, who funded $34 million to build the medical school in Meridian. Dan makes it his personal mission to bring healthcare access to the states and regions that need it most. Idaho, ranking 49th for the lack of physicians per capita and 50th for the lack of primary care physicians per capita, was a clear candidate.

Dan’s generous contribution, among others, resulted in the newest and most technology advanced medical school in the country.

“We have an amazing simulation lab that houses state of the art equipment for our student doctors to experience health encounters and scenarios they’ll see when they become physicians,” said Stephanie. “Students can even deliver babies using high fidelity simulation mannequins that have the ability to speak and react naturally.”

With access to technology that’s a mix of Tony Stark’s lab and Westworld, ICOM students are receiving an elevated level of education.

“These students will be very prepared when it’s time for them to go into clinical rotations and residencies,” said Stephanie. “We believe they will be more advanced than their peers because of the technology we’re able to offer them here.”

The students at ICOM will complete two years on campus participating in didactic learning through lectures and labs. During years three and four of their education through ICOM, they’ll complete clinical rotations shadowing a physician.

“Once they graduate from ICOM, the students will go on to their residency based on the specialty they want to pursue,” Stephanie explains. “But students from out of state are falling in love with Idaho and really crossing their fingers that they’ll be assigned residency here.”

Stephanie goes on to share that Treasure valley growth and Idaho’s diverse geography are a distinct draw when it comes to recruiting.

“Even the city kids like it here,” she said.

Whether they’re from New York, California or right in ICOM’s backyard, the students at Idaho’s first medical school have donned their white coats, passed their first semester, and are continuing full steam ahead towards graduation.

“They’ll be the first doctors that have ever graduated in Idaho,” said Stephanie. “They’re making history.”

Find the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine at 1401 E Central Drive, Meridian, Idaho, 83642 or at their home on the web, www.idahocom.org.

Post Categories:

Company Spotlight: Fin Fun

If Disney has taught us anything, it’s that life is much better under the sea. You may think this is a dream far from reach, but Idaho Falls company Fin Fun begs to differ.

“We’re a company that believes in making dreams come true, starting with children who’ve always dreamt of looking and feeling like a mermaid,” said Steve Browning, owner and president of Fin Fun. “It’s created an opportunity for those who want to get in the water to swim and be a true mermaid.”

These mermaid dreams began in Idaho with Steve’s mom, Karen. As a creative, fun-driven grandmother, Karen started making fins for her granddaughters in 2009. At the time, the Browning family mermaid tails were simply made of flowing swimsuit material, giving the illusion of the tail.

After years of selling sparkly tails on eBay to buyers around the world, Fin Fun developed a patented monofin to enhance the ability to swim like a true mermaid.

“The tails are buoyancy neutral in the water,” explains Steve. “It neither forces you up nor pulls you down, but it does allow you to propel yourself once you get the dolphin-kick motion down.”

Not so surprisingly, the literature on developing a mermaid tail is slim-to-none. Steve said there were only a couple of companies in the world attempting to do something similar when their tails came on the scene, and most of the Fin Fun product development was through trial and error.

“We wanted to ensure that everyone who uses the tail is as safe as possible,” said Steve. “We designed our own tail so that it would be functional, comfortable, and user-friendly. That’s something we continue to do.”

Fin Fun mermaid tails continue to make waves across the globe. In 2017, Steve and his brother Eric received the Idaho Small Business Persons of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Fin Fun was recognized as the U.S. Senate Small Business of the Month in May that year. Today, about 20% of Fin Fun’s customers are outside the United States in over 100 countries including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“We’re grateful for our success, but we don’t always want to be known as just a mermaid tail company,” said Steve. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to bring fun, active play in to the lives of kids. We want to continue being fun and engaging.”

There is no doubt Fin Fun will continue to innovate and expand their product offering. From tails to blankets, dolls to books and an interactive website for kids, the world is their oyster.

Follow the Fin Fun adventures on their YouTube channel or at their home on the web, www.finfunmermaid.com.

Post Categories:

Project Spotlight: Community Development Block Grant

Established as part of the Housing and Community Development Act in 1974, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, administered by Idaho Commerce, allocates funding directly to the State of Idaho.

CDBG can assist cities and counties with the development and construction of public infrastructure and facilities. Funds are awarded based on several factors including percentage of local match, overall need, impact of the project and readiness to proceed.

Carey City Park and the Kellogg Wastewater System Upgrade are two successful recent CDBG projects.

Carey City Park

The City of Carey, Idaho, was awarded a $55,000 CDBG for construction of a new city park. The grant will aid in installation and construction of two handicap-accessible parking spaces as well as a sidewalk to connect the spaces to the existing park pavilion. The Carey Park project also includes the purchase and installation of playground equipment.

“We chose the Carey City Park because our little town, with no sidewalks, a main street that is a major highway, and no soccer or baseball areas, needs a place our children and families can go play safely,” said Branch Manager Gwenna Prescott. “This project is near and dear to our whole community.”

Kellogg Wastewater System Upgrades

The citizens of Kellogg, Idaho, voted in support of an $8 million bond to replace the aging and faulty sewer lines serving the city. In part due to the city’s commitment of investing $8 million into their sewer system, the city was awarded $1 million in CDBG funding to assist in the design and construction costs. These improvements will help the city meet the Clean Water Act and provide for the infrastructure foundation that allows for economic growth.

Click here for more information on the Idaho CDBG program.

Post Category:

Company Spotlight: Ventive

Disruptive (adj.): relating to or noting a new product, service, or idea that radically changes an industry or business strategy, especially by creating a new market and disrupting an existing one.

To be a member of the highly sought-after Inc. 500, companies must see their industry through a unique, disruptive lens. Luckily for company number 172, they’re driven by disruption.

According to Jonathan Cardella, CEO and founder of Ventive in Boise, Idaho, the recipe is simple: “When you combine human capital with technology, you get creation and value,” said Jonathan.

Ventive manages the design, development and technical challenges companies face when building and launching successful products. Their team is made up of over 80 employees worldwide including designers, engineers, product managers and technologists.

“The easiest way to explain what we do is that we build apps, but mobile apps are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Jonathan. “Bigger picture, we build custom software and mobile applications for startups and enterprises looking to transform industries and processes through technology.”

Director of Client Success, Stephen Heath, emphasizes that their goal is to help businesses scale rapidly.

“Obviously, creating software can be incredibly complex, so a big part of what we do is help businesses determine what a minimum viable product looks like,” said Stephen. “This allows us to get to market fast with something that’s going to catch on and continue to grow.”

Jonathan adds, “The goal is for the product to be so next-gen that it creates a lot of buzz.”

Process and product development aren’t the only ways Ventive does things differently. Their office is also an incubator for many seed-stage companies, some of which, Ventive invests in.

One of these companies, Revenly, is an example of how Ventive’s products are disrupting industries that have been plagued with problems for decades.

“No one is going to answer the phone when a debt collector calls,” said Jonathan. “We developed a product called that allows customers to be contacted via text by those debt collectors.”

According to Jonathan, the ability to review the balance, make a payment or set up payment plans through the app have resulted in an increase in payments.

“It’s been baffling to see,” Jonathan said. “We assumed people would want to go on payment plans, but surprisingly, most people just pay it off.”

Ventive is dedicated to helping the companies who use desks in their space, but they’re also incredibly passionate about the workforce they’ve built in Idaho.

“People believe there’s no talent here, but that’s not true,” said Jonathan. “There’s a lot of talent. Our model is to have really smart Idahoans managing really smart people all over the world. And when it comes to the work, if it’s influencing people and helping them, we want to be involved.”

Ventive is located at 121 N. 9th St., Ste. 101, Boise, Idaho 83702, or online at www.getventive.com.

Post Categories: